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Some Arizona Restaurant Owners Looking To Return To Normalcy, While Others Say It's Too Soon To Reopen

Published: Monday, May 11, 2020 - 12:11pm
Updated: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 - 1:37pm
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Danielle Leoni
Chef Danielle Leoni of the Breadfruit & Rum Bar in downtown Phoenix.

May 11 marked the first day for restaurants to reopen dine-in service following the March 23 order Gov. Doug Ducey issued closing dining rooms in all Arizona restaurants. After seven weeks of being restricted to carry-out service only, many restaurants are looking forward to returning to some measure of normalcy.

Chompie’s is a New York-style deli with seven locations in the Valley. The Show spoke with Dave Winant, the manager of Chompie’s Tempe location about re-opening for breakfast service on May 11. He spoke about new procedures — including not leaving any condiments on the table between settings, limiting the seating in their dining room and making masks and gloves mandatory for employees, regardless of recommended guidelines.

“The government might decide you can take them off, but I don’t think we would do that right away," Winant said. "I think that as long as the numbers still rise, we’re still going to maintain vigilance on how we maintain everything, so I don’t see that that kind of stuff is going to go away. ... If this is the way it’s gonna be, it’s the way its gonna be.”

These new measures include throwing out all unused creamers, sugar packets — even kids' crayons — after they have been placed on the table. Winant acknowledges it all could have an adverse impact on overhead costs, but he says that everything comes down to one question:

“What’s best for safety? Would you rather spend a little more money to make sure that everybody’s safe, that everything is secure and that everything was done properly or do you want to save the pennies?" Winant said. "They don’t want to save the pennies, they want to show the public that we’re concerned, that we are going to do the best we can to make sure everything is on the up-and-up and sanitary so people can come in and feel comfortable.”

While many business owners have been pushing to reopen, not everyone is so eager. A growing number of business owners are now voicing their concerns — and saying it’s simply too soon to reopen.

One of those restaurant owners is chef Danielle Leoni, co-owner of the Breadfruit and Rum Bar in downtown Phoenix. The Show spoke with her just as restaurants were being told to close back in March, and now she is one of those who doesn’t want to open her doors yet. 

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